Correction: New UO Student Season Ticket Option is a Huge Win for Students

Last night I got all worked up about the horror that would be UO students paying for football tickets.

It turns out I was so blinded by the dollar signs that I didn’t completely understand the initial report and more importantly, didn’t include one crucial bit of information that, in fact, makes this deal a huge victory for students.

Instead of taking away 1,000 of the tickets the ASUO already allocates to students via that still bat shit crazy online distribution system, the athletic department is now offering 1,000 extra tickets to students — taking them from the general ticket marketplace. In essence, the AD just increased the amount of tickets available to students by 20%.

Now the only problem is the ethical dilemma it creates for students.

Should you pay the $200 — fair market value at $33 per ticket — and guarantee yourself a coronary-free Sunday, or save the beer money and add a little excitement — and possible heartbreak — to the end of your week?

Personally, I’ll pay the $200. I will be in Eugene for all six games, I’m lucky enough to afford it, and no matter how much of a rush it was to make it to that still ever-glorious checkout page, I’d rather avoid the stress and battle scars that come with it.

And if you think about it, there’s a good chance you’ll end up paying $200 for just two games if you happen to miss out on them through the online process. Sure, you can buy standing room only tickets to out of conference games, games against weak opponents (cough WSU cough) and games before the school year starts for $30 and then sneak into the student section, but for premium games like USC, UW or the Civil War (although we play none of those teams this year), even a standing room only ticket could set you back $100.

Of course, if you’re not going to be in Eugene for September, being in Autzen on Saturday isn’t a life or death proposition, or you already work two jobs paying your own tuition, then you can carry on as if nothing has changed.

By all means, this has not fixed the student football system but it does help those who are willing to shell out the extra $200.

Plus, this offers the added bonus of beefing up one of the already rowdiest student sections in the country with 1,000 new “O”-yelling crazies.

If anyone should be upset, it should be the alumni, faculty and the general Autzen Stadium-going populace.

I apologize to the AD and the ASUO for my disparaging post yesterday, and on behalf of all students, I’d like to thank you for finding a way to let 1,000 more students enjoy the privilege that is Oregon Ducks football at Autzen Stadium.

Here are the reports from the Daily Emerald and the release from GoDucks.com itself.

The only question is if the ASUO will continue to purchase as many tickets for students with student fee money as before, as the Emerald’s report says the ASUO will save $160,000 from this deal, which I’m not sure where that comes from.

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Attention UO Students: Get Ready to Shell Out $200 for Football Tickets

Ed’s Note: Read the updated/correct story here.

Any current (or former) U of O student knows how awesome football games at Autzen Stadium are. Not so awesome, however, is the process of how said students go about obtaining their virtual golden tickets.

Every Sunday evening before the next home game, thousands of students nervously log-on to GoDucks.com, holding their collective breath and hoping the server doesn’t overload while the seconds seemingly tick by at lightning speed. If you don’t get to the ever glorious checkout page by three minutes past your designated distribution time, you know there’s a good chance you’ll be scalping tickets come Saturday.

Well now there’s an answer.

From GoDucks.com:

For the 2010 Football Season, UO students will be able to purchase a Student Season Ticket. This season ticket will cost $200, and all 6 home games will be embedded into your UO Student ID card. Students with a Student Season Ticket will not need to claim a ticket through the lottery process on a game-by-game basis, though you will still get your UO ID scanned at the student entrance at Autzen before each game.

UO Student Season Tickets will go onsale on Sunday, August 22nd at 6:00pm. There is a limit of 1,000 season tickets and they will be sold to currently enrolled UO Students on a first-come first-serve basis.

Hold on a second here. Doesn’t every student already pay for football tickets as part of their student fees? Why should I have to shell out $200 more — on top of $35,000 for tuition — to ensure that I can yell “O!” on six Saturdays?

Of course, I’m going to do it — and I expect the other 999 tickets to sell out in mere minutes — because whether it’s right or not, being able to attend (and write about from the first person) Oregon football games is one of the top reasons why I chose the U of O.

Students get the short end of the stick already. Sure, you can cut back hours to the library, EMU and the Rec, close “The Break” pool hall, and eliminate needed bus routes without much complaint, but don’t mess with our football tickets.

The UO Athletic Department has put itself in a win-win position while putting the ASUO in a lose-lose. The old system was bad, blaming the ASUO for not having enough money to buy up the whole student section on gamedays. Now, students will blame the ASUO for agreeing to let the AD make $200,000 in pure profit off 1,000 so-called lucky, worry-free students.

Sure, it might be worth $200 to me to avoid the heart-stopping panic each Sunday night. * **

(*Note: Last year, I only managed to get a ticket to the epic USC game because a “friend” on facebook who I didn’t actually know, had made it into the system and decided to do a good deed, entering my username and password into his open ticket-gulping channel.)

(**Extra note: While thousands of students are turned away from even attempting to “purchase” student tickets online, certain lucky students have the opportunity to logout and back in nearly limitlessly to hook up all of their friends. Yea, the system is broken.)

But it’s $200 more than students should have to pay to attend football games. I may seem to be emitting a generous aura of entitlement, but I think my (well, my dad’s) $35k+ a year is enough to include a guarantee for six measly football tickets.

Yea, I’ll pay the $200, and it’ll be a relief for my blood pressure not to go through the roof on a weekly basis, but I think there’s a better way to let students attend football games — without gouging their pockets and offering its student body a collective weekly coronary.

I Can’t Wait to Yell “O”: 30 Days From My First Autzen Stadium Experience

I had some trouble falling sleeping the other night. I closed my eyes, readjusted my pillows, counted sheep, but nothing. Still awake.

This.

I couldn’t get an image out of my head. No matter how hard I tried, it kept me up, like a bright light shining smack in my face that I just couldn’t shut off.

The image, that of a screaming section 8, a LaMichael James breakaway, a yet-to-be-named quarterback lob to the end zone, played over and over, 13 times until I finally dozed off.

I am so excited for football season, it’s unhealthy. It being my first season in Eugene, it’s hard for me to think about anything else right now as we sit with just under a month left until kickoff.

I have so many expectations, so many questions! Is it really as loud as they say inside Autzen? Does it really never rain over there?

Aside from the spring game, my only Duck football game was the heartbreaking loss to Stanford last season at the Farm. It was just days after I had been accepted to the University of Oregon, the Ducks were flying high, but the unstoppable force that is Toby Gerhart seemed to run all over them. And while we didn’t come away with a W, my first experience at a Duck game was incredible.

The sea of yellow and green that was the Oregon section, taking up a good quarter of the stadium, yelled “O” with a force so powerful it gave me goose bumps. It was deafening. The (euphemism alert!) eccentric Stanford band could barely be heard!

With the devotion I saw from Oregon fans that chilly afternoon in November, I instantly knew that I had chosen the right school. While choosing a school known for my major took precedence, the atmosphere of the institution was something that helped weigh my decision. I could’ve chosen the tropical beaches of the University of Hawaii, but being on an island 6,000 miles away from my friends and family wouldn’t work. Or I could’ve chosen Arizona State University, which has an excellent journalism program, but it’s in the desert. ‘Nuf said.

But I chose Oregon. I chose Oregon because, coupled with an excellent J-school, the dedication, devotion and love from the fans is something that makes an excellent institution.

That, and Eugene is just damn pretty.

In the coming years, as Oregon football rises to the top of the college football scene, the amount of exposure the school gets will increase. This increase will do wonders for the school, as it already has. High school seniors will watch Oregon on ESPN on Saturdays, see the screaming student section, the beautiful campus, and all around general camaraderie.

Seeing this majestic environment will make them want to come here. They’ll apply. More and more of them, each year. Some will get in, and some won’t. But the more that apply, the better the school looks.

Which means, I might actually have a job when I graduate! (Editor’s note: still doubtful).

Essentially what I’m saying is, the better the team gets, the more exposure the school gets; the more exposure the school gets, the more competitive it becomes. The more competitive it becomes, the better a University of Oregon diploma looks hanging in my cubicle in a failing newspaper’s newsroom.

That said, I’m not looking too deep into the future, but instead trying to focus on right now. The right now being this football season. I will be at every game. Screaming O. Showing those high school seniors exactly where they want to spend their next four years, and increasing the value of my college education in the process.

It’s Finally Game Day: The Biggest Civil War Ever

Duck Voodoo at it's best!

Duck Voodoo at it's best!

Before this year, Abraham Lincoln must have rolled in his grave at the thought of two Oregon football teams making light of our country’s most historic moment to promote a rivalry game.

But this year, good ol’ Uncle Abe understands.

Never before in the history of this game – all 112 years – has this game carried so much weight. The winner goes to the Rose Bowl and the loser, well, the Holiday Bowl isn’t much of a consolation.

Seeing as this is the biggest sporting event of my life – and in the history of Oregon – it’s truly unfortunately I couldn’t spend more time previewing this  game. But I’m a student first and a football fan second, err, well, at least that’s what I lead my dad to believe.

Professors really should know better than to assign final projects, essays, exams the week of the Civil War. One even scheduled a final exam review for 4 p.m. this afternoon. Seriously. Let’s see who shows up for that one.

But I will give you a prediction, and more links,  so I help satisfy you football fix before kickoff.

I honestly just can’t see the Ducks losing this game. Not with how the Ducks steamrolled OSU last year in Reser, not with how explosive Oregon’s offense has been, not when I just found out Oregon State actually has a homosexual Sheep Center on campus (seriously!), and most importantly, not in Autzen.

The one thing that does worry me though, is Jacquizz Rodgers.

In case you were wondering, yes, that is real horse poop.

In case you were wondering, yes, that is real horse poop.

I don’t like him. You don’t like him. No Duck fan likes him. But he is a fantastic football player, and a threat that Oregon State didn’t have last year. He is a total game-changer.

Fortunately, Oregon’s front seven is much improved and stopping the run has turned from a weakness last year, to a strength this year.

This is going to be one of those nail-biting, cover your eyes at the  finish, down to the wire games that makes football so great.

And I can only expect one thing: A Duck victory.

Prediction: Oregon 45, Oregon State, 38

Here are some more links you definitely need to check out:

ESPN’s Ted Miller examines the importance of this game for both teams, the fan bases and even conference awards.

OregonLive’s Bob Rickert has some videos to get you fired up, including – you guessed it- I Love My Ducks.

Sports Illustrated’s Austin Murphy weighs in with his thoughts on the Civil War.

The AP breaks down the differences between a Duck and a Beaver. It won’t just be anatomically, I promise.

And finally, the Oregonian’s John Canzano says the fans need to their part to make this Civil War epic. Shouldn’t be a problem, Johnny boy.

And there you have it, Go Ducks!

I’ve told you mine. What’s your final score?!?!

Oregon Ducks Dress Up as the Grim Reaper, Kill USC on Halloween Night

If you’ve never been to a big game at Autzen stadium, I suggest you do everything in your power to do so. Take out a loan, put your wife or girlfriend up for prostitution, sell your kids. Whatever it takes. These options are all better than being forced to watch an Oregon Ducks home game from your couch.

This guy is my idol.

This guy is my idol.

Yesterday was honestly the best day of my life. And I’ve had some great days. Being born, for one. Jerry Rice once stepped on my foot at a YMCA post-game party. J.T. Snow moved in next door when I was 12, and the first thing I said to him was that Eric Chavez was my favorite player.

I was at the A’s game when they finally won a division series in 2006, and even better, I was there, sitting 10 rows away, when Frank Francisco lost his mind and threw a chair into the stands.

See I’ve had some great days, but none have came even close to the absolute mayhem that ensued yesterday from 4:30 in the morning when I showed up at ESPN’s College Game Day, all the way until 10 pm when the students finally started clearing the field.

To sum up, here’s what I tweeted last night, at 2 a.m. no less, mildly intoxicated. “UOsportsdude: Game day. Nap. Pre-game. Game. Celebration. Beer pong. Drunk dialing my gf. Now that’s what I call a good day.”

So now that we have established that yesterday was officially the best day ever, unless you are a USC fan, or Bernie Madoff, here are some of my thoughts on the game.

· Hey Matt Barkley, can you hear us now? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

· Can we just make it official? Autzen is the loudest stadium in the country. USC had five false starts in the first half alone. I lost count after that.

· Can we just give “Big Balls” Chip Kelly the national Coach of the Year award, right now? Seriously. Drive it to his house right now.

· And how cool is Chip? He dressed up as Puddles at Game Day. What a baller.

· And if that weren’t enough, when asked about why the Ducks are so successful in the second half, he coolly says, “Our halftime adjustments are just try to get a drink of water, touch your toes and go back out and play.”

· One more reason to love Chip Kelly: “We don’t recruit guys to play in games like this, we recruit guys to win games like this.”

· I wonder what Jeremiah Masoli did last night. I bet the second he left the locker room, someone had a beer and a perfect 10 waiting for him.

· I actually feel like I single-handedly had a part in the Ducks win last night. And of course, the 59,591 other people in the Autzen zoo.

· Last night was the worst lost in Pete Carroll’s tenure with the Trojans, and the second worst loss in the history of USC.

· In his past 93 games, Carroll had never lost by more than a single touchdown.

· Oregon rushed for 391 yards against a team that ranked fifth in the nation in rushing defense, allowing just 80 yards a game. The Ducks had 613 yards of total offense, the second-highest total USC has ever allowed after Notre Dame’s 623 in 1946.

· I still love the Song Girls, though.

· LaMichael James is now officially added to my man crush list. Jeremiah Masoli, you’re next.

· The setting for last night’s game was a perfect storm. Night game. Halloween. ESPN Game Day. In Autzen. I didn’t meet a single Duck fan who wasn’t 100 percent confident we would win.

· I also didn’t meet a single USC fan that talked trash before the game. I guess they knew what was coming.

· I hugged Will Tukuafu on the field after the game.

· There were about 15 people dressed in farm animal costumes last night. Why? I don’t know.

· Best costume of the night goes to the Oregon coconut bra guy, who uncannily resembled the Joker. Good work, man.

· I can’t believe that just two years ago, USC was my first choice for college. I think I made the right decision coming to Eugene.

· Stat of the Night: Oregon gained 99 more yards again the Trojans than they did against Washington State. Wow.

· The only good news for USC fans? They can sleep in on New Year’s Day.

· Here’s the best article I read from a USC perspective, from the LA Times .

· Oregon beat the Trojans so badly that the USC president is now planning to retire after 19 years at the helm.

· I’m sorry, but the Ducks are not the eighth best team in the country. Iowa, Cinci, Boise State and TCU? Come on. Three mid-majors whose only good win collectively, is the Broncos beating Oregon when they were a completely different team, and a team from the Big Ten, which might be a worse conference than the WAC.

· Only Florida, Bama, and Texas should be higher. And I think we could beat any of these teams right now.

· As of this moment, I would be honestly disappointed in a Rose Bowl appearance. I would rather play a team from the Big 12 in the Holiday Bowl than crush Iowa in the Rose Bowl.

· Title game, or bust, baby.

· My favorite sign from Game Day: “Matt Barkley reads Twilight .” It’s a long ride back to LA, Matt. Read up.

· The only thing I am disappointed with is that Oregon didn’t go full blackout. How sick would those uni’s have been?

· Quote of the night goes to Masoli: “We plan on doing this. If we make a statement, we make a statement. That’s just Oregon football and how we roll.”

· I am flying home for next week’s game at Stanford. Best $300 investment ever made…by my dad.

· I am going to make my girlfriend paint me in Oregon colors from head to waist, and she is going to have to put up with me in “Oregon football mode” for an entire afternoon. I apologize in advance.

· I said it before, but it bears repeating. I am more all in Oregon football than Charles Barkley and John Daly at a poker table—and I couldn’t be happier.

GOOOO DUCKS!!!

If you want to check out more pics of the game, please go to U of O student Christina Barth’s Flickr page here.

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Matt Barkley Thinks Autzen Will be Nighmare-Free on Halloween, He is Sorely Mistaken

Apparently Matt Barkley has never heard of bulletin board material.

Despite sporting a 3.77 high school GPA, the true freshman quarterback might have just made the biggest mental mistake of his career—and it didn’t come anywhere near a football field.

Earlier this week, Barkley was asked if he was nervous at all about playing at Autzen Stadium.

His response?

“It doesn’t matter to me. I’ve never been there. I heard it’s crazy, but I say this every road game: It won’t matter.”

If that weren’t enough, he added, “I feed off the energy. I feed off that noise. I love it.”

Well, Matt, you’ll get your chance on Saturday to prove how hungry you really are. You just gave 60,000 of the most insanely hardcore, passionate football fanatics in the country a single united goal: Put you through living hell for three-and-a-half hours. Not a great plan.

Let’s recap.

It’s a night game. It’s Halloween. It’s our most important game of the decade. College GameDay is here. Most importantly, it’s at Autzen. Do you really want to give the fans another reason to make you piss your pants because of anxiety?

Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News put it best: “[Autzen] is non-stop, eardrum-rattling, jet-engine level, false-start causing noise.”

I can’t wait until you burn USC’s first timeout in the first quarter because you aren’t used to communicating with hand motions. But don’t worry, you aren’t the only one. Several more experienced and better quarterbacks have tried and failed to conquer Autzen.

In 2007, Mark Sanchez pointed to playing at Notre Dame as a reason for why he wasn’t afraid of Autzen. How did that one turn out? With the “Sanchize” throwing two interceptions and a 24-17 loss. Score one for the good guys.

Jahvid Best said publicly that the only stadium in the entire country that rattles him is Autzen: “The crowd noise is crazy up there. Honestly, any other away game I don’t really even hear the crowd. Oregon was the only place where it really got on my nerves.”

Need more examples, Matt? I’ve got plenty.

Then-Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said in 2003 that Autzen was the loudest stadium he’d ever been in.

Matt, you survived the Horseshoe—all 105,000 fans. Congratulations. But just like with the play on the field, the fans in the Big Ten don’t come even remotely close to those in Eugene.

A columnist for The Michigan Daily wrote in 2003, “Autzen’s 59,000 strong make the Big House collectively sound like a pathetic whimper. It’s louder than any place I’ve ever been, and that includes The Swamp at Florida, The Shoe in Columbus, and Death Valley at Louisiana State. Autzen Stadium is where great teams go to die.”

How about one more for good measure?

Adrian Peterson, the most dominant running back in the NFL today, admitted that the noise in the Autzen zoo caused him actual physical pain. “It was like some sort of crazy torture in the movies,” Peterson said. “How do people go that so long without taking a breath? I think my ears are still ringing.”

You get the idea.

Matt, I hope you know what you got yourself in to. You can act tough now and put up a false confidence so you look like a golden boy for the media, but when you take that first step onto the field and look up at 60,000 snarling, ravenous black and yellow Oregon Duck fanatics, no one on earth will be able to comfort you.

Not Pete Carroll, not Joe McKnight. Not even your mother. It all comes down to you, a 19-year-old true freshman quarterback, against the most rattling, unnerving, and frightening fans you have ever seen and will ever see.

Welcome to Autzen. Just hope you get out alive.

Prediction: Oregon 34, USC 28

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Once Again, the Oregon Ducks Neuter the Washington Huskies

I’ve never seen so many sad people wearing purple before. I mean, wearing purple is depressing enough on its own, but factor in a 43-19 ass whooping by your cross-state rival and there’s plenty of reasons to shed a tear.

For the sixth straight year. Man, it must suck to be a Husky fan.

I couldn't resist.

I couldn't resist.

What once used to be a heated rivalry turned into the Bob Barker special: “Help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered.”

And the Oregon Ducks were happy to oblige, slicing and dicing the Huskies all afternoon. Several collective whimpers bellowed from the cheerless spectators who called the early-emptying confines of Husky Stadium home.

I couldn’t be happier that my roommate talked me into making the five-hour road trip up to the University of Washington. The jaunt marked many firsts for me, including my first away Ducks game, and my first steps within the city limits of Seattle. And boy, did I learn a lot, both on and off the field.

And lucky for you, I’m in a sharing mood.

Here are my thoughts:

  • Oregon is a dominant football team when Jeremiah Masoli is on the field and playing well.
  • LaMichael James might just be the best running back in the Pac-10.
  • Jake Locker is overrated.
  • The Washington Huskies are overrated.
  • Our marching band is much cooler than Washington’s.
  • Husky stadium does not get anywhere nearly as loud as Autzen Stadium.
  • Seattle is the cleanest city I have ever seen.
  • “I quack for chip” is much cooler than “I bark for sark”. Who said rhyming was so cool anyway?
  • It’s hard to look good when you’re wearing purple.
  • It’s hard to talk shit when you’re coming off an 0-12 season and you’ve lost to us five straight seasons.
  • But Husky fans did anyway.
  • It’s easy to counter a Husky Fan who talks shit.
  • UW’s campus is huge. They have about five times more buildings than UO does, and each building is massive and poorly marked.
  • However, I must say their campus is gorgeous. Although mildly creepy at night.
  • The Oregon student section affectionately dubbed Locker with the nickname “needle dick”.
  • Washington fans have no response when we chant “Fuck the Huskies.”
  • Husky Vision sucks.
  • Oregon’s uniforms are so clean, Mr. Clean would be proud.
  • Washington’s uniforms, however, are gross. Time to upgrade.
  • Love this quote from LMJ: “By Wednesday I knew we were going to win, because we practice harder than any team in the country.”
  • Husky Stadium is a gigantic shit hole.
  • However, tailgating on Lake Washington would be awesome.
  • Piroshkies are delicious: shout out to Piroshky Piroshky in Pikes Place Public Market.
  • Downtown Seattle is awesome. Definitely could live there.
  • Oregon committed way too many stupid penalties. If we want to beat USC, we can’t give away extra chances or give back first downs.
  • After shaking off the rust in the first quarter, Masoli looked healthy, throwing accurately and not afraid to take off and run the ball when he needed to.
  • Washington’s marching band looks like a giant group of broken purple condoms.
  • Oregon’s Color Guard is jawdroppingly terrible. No talent, no effort, no cute girls, no excitement, not worth watching. It looks kind of like the NBA all-star game: “Yea we’ll practice together once before the game but that’s it”! They are so bad they are basically asking to get made fun of, and I am more than happy to oblige.
  • Chris Polk is a very good running back. Extremely quick and deceptively shifty, shrugging off tacklers with ease.
  • Oregon’s defense and special teams once again kept them in the game. This time by creating a huge momentum swing after returning a block punt for a touchdown.
  • Cliff Harris is going to be an absolute beast.
  • Kenny Rowe is an absolute beast.
  • Javes Lewis is an absolute beast.
  • The entire defense is absolutely beastly.
  • Not many teams can keep up with the Ducks’ speed on offense.
  • The Huskies are not one of them.
  • Oregon has beaten the Huskies six times in a row – all by more than 20 points.
  • The guy who won Homecoming King for Washington looked mildly homosexual.
  • Big Balls Chip should be the frontrunner for Pac-10 coach of the year. He made great decisions on the field and had his team extremely focused for a very possible let down game.
  • Puddles is the coolest mascot in college football.
  • College Gameday better come to Eugene on Halloween for the USC game next weekend.
  • I better get a ticket tomorrow for the USC game .
  • If we win next weekend, the national championship is a legitimate possibility.
  • We better win next weekend.

View pictures from the trip here.

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Rivalry Renewed: Oregon Ducks Look for Sixth Straight over Huskies

I remember going to my first Oregon Duck football game last fall as a freshman. Because of weird scheduling circumstances, the Washington Huskies came to Autzen in just the second week of the season.

If Masoli is healthy, the Ducks will roll over the Huskies.

If Masoli is healthy, the Ducks will roll over the Huskies.

And being a fan of the Ducks for several years before I stepped on campus, I was well aware of the rivalry and was excited to witness it firsthand.

Soon after entering the stadium, I was quickly thrown into the competitive trash-talking that those clever collegians in the student section like so much. Well, this time we weren’t so clever.

From the very second the first purple-clad player appeared in the tunnel, there was a telekinetic-like power that united the entire stadium; students, alumni, and even children to stand up and chant: “Fuck the Huskies!”

Over and over again. I didn’t even know we were allowed to do that. Looking back, we probably weren’t, but it was too much fun it didn’t matter. The loathing between the two teams was palpable.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on the way you look at it, the dislike quickly turned to sympathy, as the Ducks went all Michael Vick on the Huskies, 44-10. To make matters worse, Washington didn’t win a single game the rest of the season, including a heartbreaker to the lowly Washington State Cougars.

For some reason, the rivalry didn’t feel so much like a rivalry to me anymore after that game. It was more of a business as usual, fifth straight win in a row type of thing.
But the Huskies are no longer a joke. No more Tyrone Willingham or Rick Neuheisel and his March Madness office pools.  Washington now has a legitimate head coach: Steve Sarkisian, who learned from the best of the best in Pete Carroll at USC. Coach Sark finally has the Huskies playing up to their full potential.

Despite going winless last season, Washington had plenty of talent, although most of it was inexperienced. Willingham brought in several solid recruiting classes, including QB Jake Locker in 2006 and receivers Jermaine Kearse and Kavario Middleton last season. He just couldn’t get anything out them. I mean, Locker is good enough that he should be able to win a handful of games by himself.

But now Locker has developed into the player many expected him to become, the West Coast’s version of Tim Tebow, Chris Polk emerged as a talented running back and Kearse has excelled in his first season.

However, the one thing that has kept the Huskies from a 2008 Miami Dolphin-like turnaround is their defense. Although better than last season, the Huskies still rank ninth in the Pac-10 in total defense, allowing 424 yards per game.

And that’s why the Huskies are at least a year away from putting a stop to Oregon’s five game winning streak. Jeremiah Masoli (who should play) and LaMichael James, two of the hottest players in the country, should be able to feast on the porous Washington defense.

With two weeks for the Ducks to rest up, and two weeks for offensive mastermind Chip Kelly to game plan, Oregon should be focused and ready to march into Husky Stadium for their sixth straight win.

Kelly has instilled his mantra of “one game at a time” into his players, as offensive tackle Bo Thran can attest: “They’re just the next team on our schedule.”

The only worry for the Ducks, is adjusting to the unfriendly confines of Husky Stadium. Only one game in their current five game winning streak over Washington came in Seattle.

But Chip Kelly has done a tremendous job preparing this team week in and week out. Going into the Rose Bowl before the bye, many fans were frightened because it was the first road game since the Boise State debacle, but Oregon overcame a lackadaisical first half to win handily.

“We don’t put any more stock in this game than another,” Kelly said. “By that, I don’t mean to diminish it, but we put everything we have into every game. We haven’t done anything different in terms of our approach. It’s a league game. It’s on the road. And that’s enough to get our players up and excited for practice.”

In Big Balls Chip I trust.

Prediction: Oregon 34, Washington 24

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Oregon Must Overcome Several Challenges at UCLA to Stay in The BCS Hunt

I’m worried. For the first time all season. Seriously.

I bought into the hype before Boise State. I was certain Oregon would get their revenge against Purdue. I knew Utah was overrated. I had a feeling the Ducks would step up against Cal. And Washington State is, well, Washington State.

But UCLA? What’s so special about the Bruins?

Costa will need to step up in a big way for the Ducks to win in the Rose Bowl on Saturday

Costa will need to step up in a big way for the Ducks to win in the Rose Bowl on Saturday

It’s really not that I’m worried about UCLA at all. I mean, yeah, they’re a decent team. Actually, they’re a little better than that. They went into Knoxville and knocked off the Volunteers. And they gave Pac-10-leading Stanford a late scare in Palo Alto. Both pretty impressive.

But in a vacuum, there is nothing about the Bruins themselves that scares me. Kevin Prince? Johnathan Franklin? Terrence Austin? I’m sure they’re nice guys, but man, that’s a whole lot of mediocrity.

So you ask, what could I possibly be worried about? What is it that caused me to stay up late last night, tossing and turning while I pictured what will happen when the Ducks travel to Westwood on Saturday?

There are four things. And any single one of them could be enough to derail Oregon’s Rose Bowl aspirations with a devastating loss at, coincidentally, the Rose Bowl.

Jeremiah Masoli’s Injury

Just as Masoli finally started playing up to his Heisman-like potential the past two weeks, the curse of the Oregon quarterback struck: a knee injury. Seriously, another one?

Masoli came out in the second quarter against Washington State with the Ducks already leading 35-0. So when he came out, the initial thought was they were just resting him and putting in the second stringers in early.

Turns out Masoli has a sprained MCL, an injury that usually takes at least a couple weeks to heal completely. So the Ducks will turn to junior backup Nate Costa as the starter on Saturday. And if things go according to plan, Costa will lead Oregon to victory, allowing Masoli to rest this week and during the open date next week, before suiting up at full strength in Husky Stadium on Oct. 24.

Costa, who was supposed to be the starter last season before re-tearing his ACL in fall camp, has never started before. And the only in-game experience he has, is against the second team during blow outs over Cal and Washington State this season, Portland State in 2006, and during a big loss at USC that same season.

Sure, he has an inspiring story, as he has come back from multiple devastating knee injuries. Sure, he was a top recruit coming out of high school. And sure, he has a career 84.4 completion percentage. But he only has 21 career passes has never started a game before.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that Chip Kelly has enough confidence in Costa to let Masoli rest up and avoid any resemblance to what happened with Dennis Dixon in 2007. It’s just that getting handed the ball in the Rose Bowl with the season on the line is a lot of pressure to deal with.

Playing on the Road

Oregon has had it easy the last month with four straight home games. And for the Ducks, playing in Autzen stadium is an advantage that very few other teams are privileged with.

Before Cal came to Eugene two weeks ago, Jahvid Best told reporters that the crowd at Autzen is the only one that stands out in his mind as having gotten to him.

Former Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr once said, “Autzen Stadium is where great teams go to die.” And trust him, he knows from experience.

So when Oregon travels south to UCLA, it will be their first road game since the debacle in Boise.

The Ducks have had some trouble playing away from Autzen in the recent past, with a 9-9 road record since 2006.

It will interesting to see how focused Kelly has team this time, because Oregon looked lost and overmatched in the season opener against the Broncos.

Injuries in the Secondary

Apparently knee injuries don’t only happen to quarterbacks at Oregon.

Just weeks after team captain Walter Thurmond suffered an ACL ending his season, fellow senior cornerback Willie Glasper succumbed to the same fate. That leaves Talmadge Jackson as the only remaining cornerback with starting experience.

“We just got to plug the next guy in,” Kelly said. “You deal with injuries every day. It’s college football. UCLA’s quarterbacks are banged up. Tim Tebow’s hurt. Sam Bradford’s hurt. It doesn’t just happen at Oregon. It happens everywhere in the country.…We’ve got a lot of guys out so it’ll be interesting to see how this thing finishes up.”

After the defense stepped up following the loss of Thurmond, despite already being without T.J. Ward, they held Cal and WSU to just nine total points, it will interesting to see how the Ducks respond to yet another hit to their secondary. Inexperienced reserves, Anthony Gildon and Chad Peppars will compete for the starting spot.

Playing With Expectations

Oregon has gotten off to many fast starts throughout the decade. But just when they appear to be a serious contender, the Ducks have wilted under the pressure.

For example: 2003, 2006, 2007, and this season, in the opener against Boise State.

Playing with the hype of being a contender for the BCS is a completely different animal than fighting for the Emerald Bowl. The entire country is watching. Every play matters. Just one mistake marks the difference between playing in San Diego in December instead of the Rose Bowl in January.

And now, as Oregon has climbed back to No. 13 in the rankings, they have once again emerged as the sexy, dark horse pick for the national championship.

By all means, I think the Ducks have a great chance to run the table and end up in Pasadena on New Years Day, or possibly better. But it’s up to Chip Kelly to have his team focused for every single game, whether it’s UCLA or USC.

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Oregon-Washington State: After Cal Win, Nothing Less Than a Blowout Will Do

Is Washington State still a Division-1 team? Sometimes I forget.

When you’ve only won one road game since 2007, needed late-game heroics to squeak past a winless Washington squad for their only Pac-10 win in 2008, and a 30-27 home win against Southern Methodist a few weeks ago qualifies as a major upset, sometimes you’re left out of the spotlight.

Oregon outscored the Cougars 126-21 in their last two meetings, expect more of the same.

Oregon outscored the Cougars 126-21 in their last two meetings, expect more of the same.

Which is why, when Oregon, fresh off a 42-3 shellacking of then No. 6 Cal, hosts the Cougars this Saturday, they might as well be playing against South Eugene High. Hey, at least the Axemen are undefeated.

So what do I expect to happen this Saturday in Autzen Stadium? A complete, total, no mercy, shove-it-down-your-throat beat down.

Washington State has proved to be a doormat against Pac-10 teams the past few seasons, averaging an impressive 51-8 loss last season in conference play. And the Ducks have certainly been a part of that, winning four of their last five contests against the Cougars, including a 63-14 win last season in Pullman and 53-7 defeat at Autzen in 2007.

After the Oregon offense sleepwalked through the preseason, the Ducks found their form against Cal, playing an absolutely perfect game on both sides of the ball. And even more importantly, gaining the confidence they will need to challenge for the conference title.

“On offense, the sky’s the limit for us,” QB Jeremiah Masoli said after the game. “We’re the only ones who can hurt us. These last couple of weeks we’ve been in a funk, but today we moved past that.”

With Masoli finally remembering that Ed Dickson is on the field, LaMichael James emerging as a weapon out of the backfield, and Chip Kelly feeling more comfortable with calling plays as a head coach, there is little chance that the nation’s last ranked defense will be able to slow down the high-flying Ducks’ offense.

Unfortunately for the Cougars, their offense isn’t much better than their defense.  They average 314.3 yards per game and have committed 13 turnovers, leading to a paltry 17 points per game, good for 109th in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

The biggest reason for their offensive woes has been bad quarterback play. Last year, the position played so poorly they were forced to resort to their intramural teams for depth. And this year hasn’t been much better, receiving below average performances from senior Kevin Lopina and sophomore Marshall Lobbestael.

But head coach Paul Wulff thinks he has found a solution in freshman quarterback Jeff Tuel.

Tuel will become the first freshman quarterback to start at Washington State since Drew Bledsoe in 1990. He earned the start with a strong performance after replacing Lobbestael against USC, going 14-for-22 for 130 yards and one interception. He ran nine times for 34 yards and was sacked four times.

So now that Oregon has climbed back to No. 16 in the AP poll after a two-week absence, expectations are once again riding high. Which is why anything less than an absolute blow out against the Cougars would be a massive disappointment.

Of course, after a huge win, there is always the possibility of a let-down game. But Kelly has his troops focused, with players buying into his mantra of “one game at a time.”

“Last week was a great memory that we created,” Kelly said, “but that’s all it is.”

Here’s to another great memory on Saturday evening in Autzen Stadium.

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